The Anthropology of Medicine: From Culture to Method

By Lola Romanucci-Ross; Daniel E. Moerman et al. | Go to book overview
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accommodation to change: A stockpile of emptiness builds up and, not being recognized, not lived through in bereavement, feeds the frantic pace. Then, "wiped out," the cycle begins anew. To refuse energy in the name of poverty makes celebration possible. To be thus impoverished is a condition no commodity can enrich; only the gifts that come freely in celebration can answer such poverty. In this celebration of the loss of the flesh and the familiar we find that we are reflected, not in the chrome and glass of downtown, the coffins of vampires, but in the bums and bag ladies looking in the trash cans or, hands outstretched, asking for a gift.

They teach us how to be poor. Ask for a gift. Gifts are not scarce commodities. They are always essentially plentiful. With arms outstretched, backs turned to the temples of scarcity, we celebrate: "A festival is essentially a phenomenon of wealth; not, to be sure, the wealth of money, but of existential richness. Absence of calculation, in fact lavishness, is one of its elements." 40

Thus enfleshed and impoverished, we celebrate our losses, not nostalgic for the past, not enthralled with the brave new world. In enacting grief for ourselves and our world, we take up a place, stepping from white noise with its swirling winds and fast lanes. Our place is filled with modern junk, surrounded by noise and speed, with fleshless energized calm vampires, but a place, nonetheless, in which to bury the dead.

On this distinction, see Alfred Schutz, "The Social World and the Theory of Social Action", in Collected Papers, Vol. II: Studies in Social Theory, ed. A. Brodersen ( The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1971), 9.
Actually, all social scientific writing uses metaphors and other rhetorical de­ vices. However, they tend to be masked under an antirhetorical rhetoric, which has been labeled the "rhetoric of objectivity." Greater attention is being given to the rhetoric of science in recent years. See Michael Billig, "Repopulating the Depopu­ lated Pages of Social Psychology", Theory & Psychology 4 ( 1994):307-35; Donald McCluskey , "The Rhetoric of Economics", Journal of Economic Literature 21 ( 1983): 481-517; A. J. Soyland, Psychology as Metaphor ( London: Sage, 1994).
Cited in Susan Banham, "Stress in the Workplace -- What Can Be Done about It?" Insurance Review ( May/June 1985):12.
Peter Marris, Loss and Change ( Garden City; N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1975), 31- 32.
Peter Marris, "The social impact of stress", in Mental Health and the Economy, ed. L. A. Ferman and J. P. Gordus ( Kalamazoo, Mich.: W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 1979), 311.
Allen C. Bluedorn, Introduction to "Special Book Review Section on the Classics of Management", Academy of Management Review 11( 2) ( April 1986):443.
Carl B. Kaufman, Man Incorporate: The Individual and His Work in an Organi­ zational Society ( Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1969), 140.


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The Anthropology of Medicine: From Culture to Method
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